Simon drops in to FinalVinyl again, prompting Dave to wonder whether Simon actually has a life.
He doesn’t have time for Simon today, and his body language suggests as much. But Simon is not to be deterred merely by being ignored. “What’s up?” he asks.
“Trouble with Mum’s house”, says Dave, reluctantly, and Simon instantly understands.
Lily, Dave’s mother, died recently, and from a previous conversation Simon remembers that she left the house – which was her only real asset – to her three children: Dave, his sister Ruby and his brother Mick. These people, who may drift in and out of these pages only occasionally, nevertheless occupy a great deal of Dave’s energy and spare time, as they have a series of issues of their own. Ruby, for example, has to look after her husband Graham, who suffers from a form of dementia, as well as two children. Mick is ‘between marriages’, and has been staying at Lily’s house with his partner Karen and their three-year-old, Holly.
“I just assumed that Mick would find himself a new place straight away,” says Dave, “but he’s still there.”
“Why doesn’t he just buy you out if he wants to stay there?” says Simon.
“With two ex-wives and four children to support, I doubt if he can afford to. The trouble is, Ruby could really do with her share just now.”
“Tricky”, agrees Simon.
“Any ideas?” asks Dave hopefully. “Will that website you’re always going on about be any use?”
“Simplify the Law? Of course.” And Simon goes on to explain.
“The thing is, there isn’t really a magic wand for this one. It’s one of those situations where you can’t make everyone happy. As it stands, Ruby is entitled to her share, whether or not Mick is living in the house. But there are three solutions. Depends on you, a bit.”
“What’s it go to do with me”.
“Well one solution would be for you to sort of buy out Ruby’s share. The will could be changed so that you get Ruby’s entitlement, and in return you could give her a cash compensation. You can get the house formally valued, and work out the appropriate sum. That way she wouldn’t have to wait for the house to be sold before she gets the money she needs.”
“How can we change Mum’s will after she’s died?”
“It’s perfectly ok – a deed of variation can be made, allowing a beneficiary to redirect their portion of the legacy. But Ruby would have to be happy with that, and you’d need to have the money too.”
“Is that something that Simplify the Law can do for me?”
“You can get a normal deed of variation on Simplify the Law. But if you were going that route you’d need something bespoke. And you would need a lawyer. They can find one for you.”
Dave appears doubtful. “What other choices do we have?”
“You can apply to the court to force a sale. If people can’t agree what do with shared property when it is left to them, the court will order a sale if need be.”
“But I don’t want to take my brother to court.”
“Well then, there’s the third alternative.”
“You could try talking to him,” says Simon. And walks out of the shop.